Estate agent's supports local centre vitality

The change of use of a vacant shop unit in a local parade in southwest London to an estate agent's was judged acceptable because it provided an opportunity to increase footfall within the centre.

The appellant claimed that the national planning policy framework (NPPF) excluded local parades from the definition of town centres. The council’s core strategy and development management policies pre-dated the NPPF and consequently its policies which sought to protect retail units within local centres should be given less weight. In response the council stated that the consultation on its development management policies had occurred in the context of the draft NPPF and the examiner had taken the comments made into account. Consequently, it claimed that its policies accorded with the adopted NPPF and should be given full weight.

The inspector decided that the council had failed to provide sufficient evidence justifying designating the parade as a key shopping frontage, noting that a retail study in 2009 did not explain why it should not be defined as a secondary retail area. On this basis the adopted policies were afforded less weight. The unit had been advertised since 2011 and no retailer had been secured. While an estate agency would attract fewer numbers of people compared to a retail use, encouraging beneficial use and investment in the centre were given greater importance by the inspector who reasoned that overall it would enhance the vitality of the centre.

Inspector Megan Thomas; Written representations

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